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Evolving traveller behaviour: the rise of experiential travelling

Revealing the evolution of travellers’ behaviour and motivations from 2019 until now.

Since 2023 is definitively the back to normal year for tourism globally, we wanted to check if the travel behavioural changes detected after the pandemic will remain the same, or if actually they will switch back to traditional tourism activities.

To obtain this answer, we have analysed the spontaneous behaviour and preferences of travellers globally using Social Listening. This methodology is based on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (Natural Language Processing) techniques to analyse over 400 million tourism related interactions on Social Media during the observed period (first semester of 2019 to first semester of 2023).

The results of this study were presented during the webinar organised by AVIAREPS titled Changing traveller behaviour and trends, where besides from Mabrian’s study, Marriot International and Qatar Tourism presented their insights on this matter.

The major conclusion to take from the study is that experiential activities or motivations are taking over conventional travel motivations. By experiential, the activities considered are related to Wellness, Active and Lifestyle, Nature and Food and Cuisine. On the other hand, conventional travel motivations have been defined as Arts and Culture, Sunbathing, Family, Shopping and Nightlife activities.

When dividing these motivations in two different blocks, the data shows how experiential activities has increased by 10 percentual points in the last 4 years ahead of conventional activities. By June 2023 the share of experiential motivations is already almost 50 / 50, which is highly significant, considering that in June 2019 only Arts & Culture and Sunbathing represented 41% of the travel motivations.

The activities that have picked up the most during these years reaching unprecedent levels of interest are Active & Lifestyle, Nature and Wellness. Regarding the two first ones, the data shows a clear inflection point from 2021, corroborating the effects of the pandemic in this type of motivations to travel. Wellbeing has also seen stable growth since 2019.

On the other hand, conventional activities that have lost most of their importance are Arts & Culture and Sunbathing, which now represent only 34% of travel motivations, losing 7 percentual points since 2019.

The way we travel is constantly switching. From the traditional holidays of sunbathing in coastal destinations and culture and shopping in the cities, to disconnecting and discovering experiences where the connection with the environment and ourselves is key. There’s an obvious impact of the pandemic and the effect of being locked down that made us realise how important it is to enjoy the outdoors and feel well and healthy during our free time which has stuck in travellers’ motivations”.

Carlos Cendra, Chief Marketing and Communication Officer at Mabrian

It is essential for destinations and tourism companies to detect new global trends among travellers in an agile manner, while working to offer a tourism product that is as diversified as possible and in line with new trends. High dependence on specific tourism products causes inefficiencies related to high dependence on certain source markets and high seasonality patterns. These factors are of great importance when it comes to promoting the sustainability of the destination.

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